There is a growing demographic called the nones that I am sure you have probably heard about. If you haven’t, the nones are the group of Americans that don’t identify with any particular religion. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily atheists or agnostic. They just don’t identify themselves as belonging to a specific religion. Since 1972 that number has gone from 5% to roughly 30% in 2021.
We could look at this number and, as Christians, be alarmed or worried, but should we be? Data can be subjective and interpreted differently depending on how you view it. For one thing, Christianity has never been an inconvenient religion in our country. Let’s be honest. In social terms, it’s always been more convenient to be Christian than not. Whether in dating or finding a job, being Christian has been beneficial. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how many people in 1972 or earlier were actually Christian and how many were just going through the motions of claiming to be Christian because that’s beneficial.
I, for one, was like that. I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ. Still, I went through the motions for my family and identified as Christian though I wasn’t one in my heart. I could be the only one to experience that pull to identify as Christian. Yet, I have a feeling more than a few people have shared the pressure to call themselves a Christian. In my case, I had convinced myself I was but never actually surrendered to Christ.
Over the years, our culture has changed, however. It’s not as convenient to be Christian. In fact, in a way, it is becoming inconvenient. Many people in America identify being Christian as a bad thing. If you identify as one, it can even hurt or shrink your job and dating opportunities. In the face of this, it’s become easier to identify as a None, whereas it was harder years ago.
So, should we be alarmed or thankful? Is it a problem or an opportunity? It depends. If we look at the data and see it as a falling away from the faith, then it is a bad thing. But suppose we see the data as a segment of the population being honest about themselves. In that case, it is a very good thing.
That same demographic that once identified as Christian but weren’t could be the same ones that are being labeled the nones. They are just now honest about their relationship with Christ, whereas they weren’t before. They are open about it. They don’t have one and don’t care to have one.
Ultimately, if someone believes they have something, it is hard to sell them on that very thing. But when they are honest and admit they don’t have it, this opens up the doors. Now, I don’t mean to compare being a Christian with a salesman, but neither can know where to put their attention if they don’t know where the need is. Now we do. Now, as Christians, we know where to put our attention more than we ever have in my lifetime. We know who needs to see and experience the love of Christ. We know who to pour it out on, and in this, we can be incredibly thankful for the honesty of the Nones.
We live in a unique time full of incredible opportunity if we are willing to walk faithfully in our obedience to Christ. Take it from a former none who once wasn’t honest with himself and just went through the motions of being who he thought people wanted him to be.